Lawless, with Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan & Gary Oldman. John Hillcoat, director. Of course, my expectations for this film were high as Pearce & Oldman are two of my favorites. The ambiance of the film is truly Depression-era hill country Virginia. A favorite American period of mine, because of the state prohibition of liquor sales & the eclectic enforcement thereof. Films that deal with this time always seem to contain one of my favorite themes. The ultimate futility of denying people their vices. Always failing to notice, or remember, that with every action there is a reaction & that souls will have their way, despite what their authorities dictate. The reaction? Usually criminal subcultures, that seem to do very well in the world that created them.
LaBeouf’s talent has been growing on me for quite some time. Initially, he grated on my nerves; always playing snide youngsters with smart mouths. I think, with this movie, that he’s won my respect. That’s a good thing. He deftly plays the youngest of three brothers, left to their own devices, distilling hooch & navigating through the dangers entailed in dealing with a product that can be created & sold, but is always a target for criminals, of an “administrative” aptitude, who wish to control the action. Always a component, in the black markets around the globe, yesterday & today.
These particular people, in a rural area of Virginia, are commonly known as hicks. But referred to erroneously as hillbillies. Each name an insult, I would imagine. As if anyone truly cares.
The scenes seem to be filled with dusty beige & interesting old automobiles. Big budgets focusing on these details, end in interesting results. Authenticity, I’m guessing.
Though the film contains more than a modicum amount of violence, it’s really not a gore-fest. Just a depiction of violent reality, that can be found in places where there are a lot of poor people, desperation & boredom. In & out through woods & small towns, to small cities with nice brick buildings shielded by the night. These people make their living selling what people want. In this case, liquor. Booze that’s been forbidden by busy bodies & do gooders. People will have their fun. A lesson that’s never learned by governments & the ignorant.
Hardy, who played Bane in the last Batman film, portrays the eldest sibling. Tough & plodding. I know he’s received the bad end of a lot of criticism, for his characters. I don’t agree that he overdoes anything. He’s simply doing as he’s told & as it’s written. Literally, I think. I like him. His vocalizations are interesting & if they weren’t effective, no one would notice.
Chastain well plays a wilting lily with an edge. Down-trodden & recently escaped from “the big city” looking for shelter, obviously not looking in the right place for a new roof. She’s gorgeous, in a painted whore of Babylon kind of way. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as there’s soap nearby. I found her talent a fantastic counter-portrayal of the larger than life & lumpish characters. A bit of downtown, in the woods.
You won’t get enough of Oldman, if that’s what you’re looking for. His appearance is cameo-window-dressing. As always, he exceeds with what he’s given. If you ask me – & no one does – if he shaped up, lost weight & focused on trying to be “attractive” he’d be a headliner again. As it is, all that is left is morsels of what we used to see years ago.
I recommend this motion picture. Loved it & wasn’t disappointed even once. You’ll be fascinated with the character that Pearce inhabits. Pearce, ever the current genius. What a guy!